Many hip hop producers tune their kicks, 808s, snares, and other instruments to achieve the right sound. Staying in key is essential for delivering a comfortable listening experience. While some beginners may overlook this step, pros are quick to note the differences. In this tutorial, we will teach you how to find the key of your kicks and 808s in FL Studio. This can be applied to much more instruments and can really transform your rap beats.
Method 1: Edison Tool – Detect Pitch Region
For this method, we will go into the most common way to find the key to your sample. Using the Edison tool, you will be able to detect the pitch using the marker/flag icon next to the wrench. It is important to note that this method doesn’t always detect/find the right key for your sound. This is because some samples and sounds incorporates a variety of frequencies.
1. In FL Studio, open up the sound’s (in this case; Kick or 808) channel. From there, you should be in the waveform tab, in this tab you can see the sound’s waveform. Hover your mouse over this waveform and right click, click on “Edit”.
2. This will open up Edison, once in Edison, right click on the marker icon. This is right next to the wrench icon. You will be able to see “Detect pitch regions”, click on that.
3. You should now see an orange marker on the Edison sound, This marker should name the key the kick/808 is in. From here, you need to go back to the sound’s channel and edit the envelope in the envelope tab. In this tab, click on the corresponding piano key to change the root note
Method 2: Edison Tool – Frequency Equalizer
This 2nd method is a more precise way of finding the key to your kicks and 808s etc. It is using the same tool as before, the Edison tool. The difference is that this method will show you the whole frequency range that your sound is covering. More advanced producers use this method but it is simple enough for beginners to use as well.
1. Same as before, open up the sound’s channel. From there, you should be in the waveform tab, in this tab you can see the sound’s waveform. Hover your mouse over this waveform and right click, click on “Edit”.
2. Once you are in Edison, click on the equalizer icon on the top row in the right side. Look at the picture for the exact location.
3. The Equalizer will now open and you will be able to see the whole frequency range, you may adjust the freq. scale to zoom in on the sound’s frequencies.
Here you can see where most of the sound resides, hover your mouse over these sections and you will see the corresponding key on the top left of your FL Studio screen. Take a look at the picture below for reference.
4. From here, you need to go back to the sound’s channel and edit the envelope in the envelope tab. In this tab, click on the corresponding piano key to change the root note
Why Finding The Key Matters In Hip Hop Production
Now that you have found the key and changed the root note to correspond to the right key, you will no longer have any issues when producing. Of course, many producers use these techniques all the time when working with different sets of sounds. Tuning will make your music sound natural and smooth which will make important subtle differences in the listeners’ ears.
How To Structure Your Beat With Keys
Generally, if you are like most hip hop producers, you will find yourself using some sort of sample. This is a great starting point in finding the right key for your beat. Meaning, that whatever root note your sample is in, that is the easiest route to take for the whole track. This will make things simple for you to train.
For 808s, some may be inclined to hear the right key by ear. Although I personally don’t recommend doing this, some find it helpful. To do this effectively, producers play their 808 notes on a higher pitch/key, this will make the differences stand out. From there you can move the desired notes down a couple of octaves to achieve smooth tuning.
How To Stay In Key In FL Studio Using The Piano Roll
While staying in key comes natural to others, for some it may be difficult. Luckily, in FL Studio, they have a cool feature in the piano roll that highlights notes that lie within the same scale. This helps tremendously for producers creating melodies. To set this up, you must have the right root note in mind, which can be found using the techniques above.
This FL Studio piano roll feature is called Scale Highlighting. To find it, you click on the down arrow on the top left corner of the piano roll. From here you scroll down to “Helpers”, go to “Scale highlighting” and select the appropriate scale. You may also select “Automatic” which will enable FL Studio to automatically highlight in-scale keys as you create notes in the piano roll.
Finding the right key is important for music production. Playing a sound in the wrong key will likely continue to mismatch the other sounds for the remainder of the track. This can prove to be problematic when it extends to the whole song. This is why finding the correct key is vital for new producers to learn when producing music. Using these techniques and methods will increase your ability in FL Studio music production. What are some other ways you guys find the correct key for your kicks, 808s, etc.?